Thursday, November 12, 2009


Biblio Bits Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Candlewick Press 2009 (ISBN 9780763635732)

Reading Level/Interest Age Ages 14+

Genre Horror, Supernatural, Romance

Plot Summary
Miranda is having one of those days: tongue-tied during her try-out for Romeo and Juliet, laughed at by the popular girls, and then her secret crush gives his girlfriend a big kiss right in front of her. She's ready for a quiet night in with her friend Lucy to nurse her bruised ego. But Lucy has other plans: a trip to the graveyard to meet up with some cool, older boys. The creepy night is made scarier when the girls are separated in the graveyard; pretty soon it's clear there is menace nearby. What Miranda doesn't know is that she has a guardian angel on her side; just as she's about to take a fatal step, Zachary calls her name and shows his light-filled form. This is a big breach of the Rules and before he knows it, Miranda is gone and Zachary's having a stern talking to from the Angel Michael. He's punished, but not quite fallen. Meanwhile, Miranda is a neophyte vampire (excuse me, Eternal) princess, "living" outside of Chicago with the current reigning Dracula as his pet/daughter. Zachary's new mission leads him straight to the midwestern headquarters of the Eternals and back to Miranda. The two have a mutual attraction that seems impossible. Can Zachary save Miranda? Is there any soul there left to save? Does she even want saving?

Critical Evaluation
Told in chapters that alternate from Miranda's and Zachary's points of view, this book had many appeal factors: supernatural beings, romantic tension, and a glimpse into the vampire "good life." Smith's writing style is engaging: funny and glib, tautly descriptive, romantically tense (in a doomed Romeo and Juliet way), with references to popular culture (when Zachary is asked what he's doing, his answer: "I'm on a mission from God," clearly a reference to this movie). The pace is consistent, though the beginning had some slow parts. Readers may stumble, as I did, over certain turns of phrase and allusions to the supernatural world that I was unfamiliar with. Were the relationships between shifters (werebeings) and Eternals more fully explained in Tantalize (2007)? There were a few leaps of faith that Smith asked of readers, with regard to plot and details, such as the sentries that guard the castle. They take the form of wolves, but it seemed that they were Eternals in another guise. I wasn't clear about whether this was a form of punishment or an indication of their station in life. I also finished the book and didn't feel that certain details were worked out to my satisfaction; perhaps this means a sequel to come. These things aside, this would be a good recommendation for a bereft fan of the Twilight (Meyer) books.

Reader's Annotation
It's Romeo and Juliet all over again, except this time the two warring clans are Angels and Eternals. Will the love-struck beings find their way to eternal happiness?

Author Information
Cynthia Leitich Smith was born in Kansas City, MO. She has published works for children, teens, and adults. She teaches writing for children and young adults in the MFA writing program at Vermont College for Fine Arts. She has won awards for her works which often portray the lives of Native American children in a modern context. Smith is married to award-winning author Greg Leitich Smith and lives with him in Texas with their four cats. Smith is "a tribal member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation." (Information for this brief biography is from here and here.)

Challenge issues
Possible areas of challenge: sexual tension; violence; some swearing.

Booktalking Ideas
Another perfect one for that booktalk around Halloween or that booktalk called "If you liked Twilight, here's what you should read next." Of course the romantic themes could be a draw also, around Valentine's Day, to focus on stories of star-crossed lovers: Romeo and Juliet, Trouble (Schmidt, 2009), An Abundance of Katherines (Green, 2006) to name a few.

Curriculum Ties

Why this book?
Another one that has appeared on the "if you like Twilight..." lists and an author who was reviewed in a group presentation on the genre of horror for tweens for this class (LIBR 264-10).

This title is considered a companion book to Smith's "dark fantasy debut," Tantalize (2007).

Book of the month, Native America Calling; YALSA Teens Top Ten Nominee.

Rockport Public Library owns?

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